Elections

Bucks County Gets Bluer, But GOP Stalwarts Still Remain


A voter heads to the polls on Tuesday.
Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

Just two years ago, Donald Trump nearly turned Bucks County red for the first time in a presidential election since 1988, when the World Wide Web didn’t exist but the Berlin Wall still did.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey led the way among statewide officials in Bucks County with 51.82 percent while then-candidate Republican Brian Fitzpatrick secured a solid 53.78 percent of the vote.

Democrats worked hard to stymie this shift and succeeded when they took four of five county row offices in 2017. It wasn’t long before countywide voter registration, which was trending Republican, turned back towards the blue team.

All these developments set up for a titanic showdown in Tuesday’s midterms. On the whole, Democrats rebounded with strong victories yet failed once again in the most consequential contest.

Statewide

For a second time, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf cruised to victory both throughout the commonwealth and in Bucks County on Election Day. His gains in the latter, however, actually outpaced those in the former.

Four years ago, Wolf won the governorship with 54.93 percent and he currently sits at 57.64 percent.

Back in 2014, his total in Bucks County trailed his statewide percentage as he secured just 52.33 percent. His share rose up to 58.51 percent on Tuesday, a gain of 6.18 percent.

Over in the U.S. Senate race, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey pulled off the same feat. In 2012, he got 53.69 percent in Pennsylvania and 51.65 percent in Bucks County. Six years later, those numbers were 55.58 percent and 56.15 percent, respectively.

So in the two major contests of the night, Bucks County was bluer than the state as a whole.

Congress

Scott Wallace. speaking with Democrats on Monday.
Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

Democrats weren’t as fortunate in the First Congressional District race, where GOP incumbent Fitzpatrick was re-elected. This was undoubtedly the biggest disappointment for the local party and happened despite a massive get out the vote effort.

National prognosticators are already laying the blame for the loss and they’re not sparing any feelings:

That’s a tough verdict from perhaps the best analyst of U.S. House of Representatives elections around, but is it really correct? After all Wallace’s current vote share stands at 48.67 percent, two and two-thirds points behind Fitzpatrick’s 51.33 percent. That’s the best total for a Democrat in Bucks, and the district, since Patrick Murphy cruised to re-election in 2008.

There’s plenty more one can write concerning the First Congressional District contest, and I plan to, but for the moment the Fitzpatricks once again stand as the most successful GOP family in county politics.

State Legislature

The national Democrats had a good, but not great, night in the 2018 midterms and the same can be said about Bucks County Democrats in Tuesday’s state legislative races.

For example, the GOP held all four State Senate coming into the night only for Steve Santarsiero and Maria Collett to flip the 10th Senate District and the 12th Senate District, respectively.

Nonetheless, Democratic nominee and current State Rep. Tina Davis appears to have just missed unseating incumbent GOP State Sen. Tommy Tomlinson by a mere 100 votes in the Sixth Senate District. However, that could change with the final counting votes.

On that note, Democrat Wendy Ullman flipped the 143rd Legislation District by just a point and a half while incumbent Democratic State Rep. Helen Tai suffered a less than two-point upset in the 178th Legislative District.

At least on the surface, Election Day 2018 represented less of a blue wave in Bucks County than a return to the status quo. In the future, I’ll dig deeper to uncover the underlying trends and find what they might tell us about the elections ahead.


About the author

Nick Field

Nick Field